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August 03, 2017

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mathesis: I think you are on the right track. The ordinary zenic views of the "path" tend to be a bit too external—maybe even symbolic, of looking within. But the authentic path is to look within attempting to see the very substance of thoughts (like seeing the very substance of waves which is water).
I also agree with the via negativa which is implicit in Sixin Wuxin's teaching of dhyana: "The practice [of dhyana] consists in abandonments." This is not to far from the work of Dionysius the Areopagite. I have been reading, off and on, Alexander Golitzin's book titled, Mystagogy: A Monastic Reading of Dionysius Areopagita.

Clydy: To touch on your questions briefly. Zen, not so much the tradition/lineage 宗 cuts to the chase. Zen wants us directly to intuit the absolute (which comes in many different names). As regards Brahminism I agree with Christian Lindtner that Buddhism should be seen as ‘reformed Brahmanism’ and Karel Werner that modern scholars have misappropriated notions of ātman when formulating their theories of anattā.

The point made about Zen Buddhism seems to us to be in fact universal and apply to the problems of all religions and spiritual traditions. I would point out also that it is paradoxically according to the teaching of Zen not to identify the true meaning of Zen with Zen itself considered as a definite historical-cultural phenomena. I would be very interested to know if you agree with me about the following. The only legitimate and necessary aspect of any religion is finding for yourself and following by yourself your own appropriate path to your own true self - that which pertains to the domain of "pratyatmagocara". Teachers, rituals, texts, doctrines, precepts, institutions are like so many imperfect reflections in a river. Occasionally, for some gifted individuals, the resemblance present within the corrupt confused image may be enough to inspire a sort of conversion/awakening which will lead such a person to abandon the river and its reflections entirely and to seek only within themselves. But I find that in most cases such reflections only deluded and trap people - as in the myth of Narcissus - imprisoning them down in the muddy depths of the river, far away from the true goal.
Perhaps modern man needs to engage in a sort of purification and Via Negativa which rightly totally opposes religion and religious institutions in the standard sense of the word...often the reflection becomes so corrupt that it directly impedes and denies what it is supposed to represent. It is curious that in passages of the Gospels (but more in the Gospel of Thomas) we see Jesus himself (who taught the purification of the heart to be able to see God) opposing religion, as "why callest thou me good ? One only is good, namely God (i.e. absolute mind)" and "Only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best part etc". The big difference between East and West is that perhaps in the West there were not so many people like Plato, Plotinus or Eckhart compared to the East. Zen (the finest flower of the Mahâyâna) is indeed unique as a clear public expression (as far as such is possible) of the Truth of Religion

Zennist; I’m trying to understand how you come to identify as a Mahayana Buddhist in the Zen tradition as you seem, from your writings here, not associated with any existing Zen lineage (I’ve read your objections to established Zen sanghas, so you needn’t repeat them.) and your views to be more closely aligned with Brahminism, believing in an unchanging atman which merges with brahman, a monistic principle. Can you explain?

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